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Nuke it

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Nuke it

  1. 1. Jason Getz<br />English 1010-14<br />U.S and Nuclear Energy<br />For years there has been a debate of whether nuclear energy is a good alternative to fossil fuels. In the 50’s nuclear energy was thought to be the answer to our growing need for electricity. Two incidents changed this optimistic outlook: Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant meltdown and the accident in Chernobyl, Russia. Since the Three Mile Island meltdown, no other nuclear plants have been built in the U.S.<br />Currently the United States is completely dependent on fossil fuels, most of which are imported from other countries. In addition, the amount of green house gasses that are being put into the atmosphere is astounding and is directly affecting the world we live in today. There is no question that the U.S has to find another energy source. The question is, where do we get the energy from? Currently the U.S uses solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and geothermal energy in addition to fossil fuels to power our homes and businesses. But two thirds of our energy still comes from fossil fuels alone. So should the U.S turn to nuclear energy now that we have more advanced technology and a greater understanding of how to properly, safely and cleanly use nuclear power? I have found two articles, one pro-nuclear and one anti-nuclear, that discuss this subject. Although both articles are written by two seasoned activists I believe that Patrick Moore’s “Going Nuclear” is more persuasive than Rebecca Solnit’s article “Reasons Not to Glow.”<br />We will begin with “Reasons Not to Glow” by Rebecca Solnit. Rebecca Solnit is a very accomplished writer and has received numerous awards. She has written twelve books and countless articles on various subjects ranging from history, to art, to the environment. The purpose of the article is to stop the growing acceptance of nuclear power in the environmentalist circle. This is apparent by her publishing the article in the July / August issue of Orion magazine. Orion magazine is an add-free magazine which is focused on “strengthening the bond between man and nature.” The intended readers of this magazine would likely be active environmentalists.<br />In “Reasons Not to Glow” Rebecca Solnit puts you in a made-up position where you are against nuclear power and are sitting next to a pro-nuclear person. The two of you are having a debate over whether nuclear power should be used as a source of energy or not. Solnit goes on to argue that nuclear power plants are extremely dangerous and catastrophic to the environment. She states that not just running the power plants is dangerous, but so is the mining of the uranium and the waste that comes from the plant itself. Solnit questions whether a pro-nuclear person would be willing to have a nuclear power plant in their backyard. Rebecca Solnit continues her article by giving statistics that shows the human toll that mining uranium can have on not just the miners, but also on the people living in the vicinity of the mine. She also constantly quotes her friend Chip Ward from Nuclear-waste-threatened-Utah. Rebecca closes her article with “you chasing your formerly pro-nuclear companion down the hallway.”<br />In this article Solnit uses flattery to convince the reader that her views are correct. Her target audience is environmentalists. These environmentalists will likely have a debate about nuclear energy. So putting her readers in a completely one-sided argument, which they are winning, will make her readers feel good about themselves. It makes the reader feel they can intelligently speak about the subject with confidence and accuracy.<br />She also evokes a disdain emotion from her readers. She says “You could be sitting next to someone who hasn’t really considered the evidence” when talking about the pro-nuclear person in the story. This is an obvious shot at anyone who is pro-nuclear. It implies that if you are pro-nuclear then you are obviously uneducated in the subject. It is also another form of flattery. If you are against nuclear power then she implies that you are a well-balanced, educated individual with all the facts and a correct moral compass. This is also very effective since the purpose of the article is not to convince someone to be anti-nuclear but to strengthen the individual’s resolve that nuclear power is not the answer.<br />Solnit also uses shock multiple times through her article to defend her point. She brings in scary statistics such as, there was a 1500 percent increase in ovarian and testicular cancer in mining areas. She also states that the miners got lung cancer. Plus the children in the area were born with birth defects. These are all very scary things to hear and would likely scare anyone to being against nuclear plants<br />She also uses an outside source to give credibility to her stance. She brings in her friend Chip Ward, who is also fighting against nuclear power. He is quoted saying “To make a difference in global climate change, we would have to immediately build as many nuclear power plants as we already have in the U.S (about 100) and at least as many as two thousand worldwide.” He goes on to say “Wall Street won’t invest in nuclear power because it is too risky” which means the taxpayer would have to pay the bill. So now in the article the reader does not only have to be wary of just the environmental issues but also the damage to their personal wallet.<br />Now that we have heard from Rebecca Solnit, let’s turn our attention to the second article, by Patrick Moore. Patrick Moore is the co-founder of Greenpeace, chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. and co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, which supports increased use of nuclear energy. His article “Going Nuclear” was published in the Washington Post on April 16th 2006. Patrick Moore’s target audience is very broad. He not only aimed to convince those who are unsure whether nuclear energy is a good idea, but also to those environmentalists who still feel that it is not. <br />In “Going Nuclear” Patrick Moore addresses the most common arguments against nuclear power and shows why these arguments hold little to no ground. Patrick Moore states “Nuclear energy is the only large scale, cost effective energy source that can reduce emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power.” In his article he also shows that many of the most influential environmentalists in the world are changing their views from anti nuclear to pro nuclear. In addition he points out that no has died in a radiation related incident in the history of the U.S civilian nuclear reactor program. Hundreds of workers did die from radiation exposure underground while mining. This problem has been resolved for some time. He also states that nuclear waste can be recycled and is already being done in Japan, France, England and Russia with the U.S close behind. Moore does agree that nuclear energy and the waste it produces is dangerous in the wrong hands. He then asks, is this really a reason not to use it? He says if we banned everything that can be used to kill people then we would have to ban oil, cars and fertilizer, the ingredients to a car bomb.<br />Patrick Moore uses many effective appeals to get his point across. He uses shocking statistics to show the good that the nuclear power plants in the U.S are currently doing. He says “the 103 nuclear power plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100 million automobiles.” This is very effective in that it shows that nuclear power plants do work very effectively. This dismisses the readers’ doubt of whether nuclear power actually works.<br />Moore also uses a past nuclear accident and turns it into a positive point. He uses the incident at Three Mile Island and says it is a success story. When talking about the reactor core meltdown he says “The concrete containment structure did just what it was designed to do – prevent radiation from escaping into the environment.” By saying this he shows that even in the worst situation, a reactor meltdown, the safety mechanisms within the power plants work. This gives the reader reassurance that nuclear power, while having the potential to be dangerous, is in fact safe due to the large amount of safety precautions taken.<br />Patrick Moore’s tone throughout the paper is also very effective. He doesn’t bring his own emotions into the article which often weakens an argument. Rather he calmly addresses the arguments against nuclear energy accurately and shows why these arguments are either outdated or wrong. This is very effective for changing an individual’s position on a subject because the reader doesn’t feel as if they are being attacked. Also by accurately stating the opposing side’s position he incorporates an Ethos rhetorical appeal.<br />While both of these articles are written very effectively, by seasoned writers and activists, I believe Patrick Moore is much more effective. Rebecca Solnit uses too much emotion in her article. She directly attacks Patrick Moore and other extremely influential and important environmentalists which gives the feeling that she is becoming desperate. These attacks ruin her ethos and make her appear hostile. Solnit also brings up a large number of accidents and catastrophes but doesn’t tell you where, when or why these things happened. She only says whatever happened it was the nuclear power plant’s fault. This gives the reader a feeling of uncertainty. Yet Solnit’s article is one that will keep you reading from beginning to end which is also its greatest strength. It is much more entertaining to read than Patrick Moore’s article.<br />Patrick Moore’s use of appeals is much more effective than Rebecca Solnit’s article for a few different reasons. The layout of “Going Nuclear” is clear, concise and convincing. He uses facts from the past and present to show why people were skeptical of nuclear energy and why people now are becoming pro nuclear. In addition, his use of common sense and facts to disprove many misconceptions of nuclear energy makes a large impact on his readers.<br />In closing, the energy situation in the U.S is a major issue that affects everyone’s life on a daily basis. Our reliance on fossil fuels is hindering the ability of this nation to be independent from other countries. Your gas prices and electrical bills are continuing to rise due to our dependence on other countries resources. We are being pulled into conflicts in other countries for one underlining reason, oil. Families are being split and people are losing their lives over it. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.<br />

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